The Reason Why I Did It

July 5th 2009

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“Every once in a while I have an urge to do something completely backwards.”

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I said to him as I grazed my hand along the metal railing peeking

over the water’s edge.

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We were in downtown Chicago, unraveling from spectacular vacation, cruising down the Wabash Ave bridge, satisfied in silence,

But happiest in conversation.

.

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Even if we didn’t agree.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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“Backwards?” he asked me. “What do you mean?”

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“I’m not sure exactly. I guess…I guess sometimes I just like to do things that don’t make much sense.”

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He looked at me with a memorable face. Semi-confused with a half-smile, only because he didn’t think I was being serious.

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Thing is I remember seeing a face just like this once. I was 11. And I was in this crushed velvet leotard in the midst of my early gymnastics days.

Champ.

Champ.

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And the coach placed me and the other kiddies in a

s

i

n

g

l

e

.

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 f

i

l

e

.

.

l

i

n

e

    .

And said.

“You can jump in the foam pit later. But not now. Cartwheels first.”

 And I remember that at the precise stroke of her last sentence. I had

b

r

o

k

e

n

formation.

And was already airborne into the forbidden pit of fun.

Not sorry.

Not sorry.

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“Olive! What are you doing?” She roared in front of the other children “Why did you do that?!”

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“I’m sorry,” I told her in my meek voice and crushed velvet leotard, drowned in a sea of foam bliss, “Sometimes I like to do things that don’t make any sense.”

She looked down at me with a semi-confused face and a half-smile.

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And I remember this exact memory playing through my head. When I told him this:

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“Well. Let’s see…how can I explain it…”

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   lifted

I                my purse from my shoulder

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And balanced it along the edge

of the railing.

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I watched his face turn from half smile to worry. As I held it there with my hands.

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Then I said.

“What if I were to take my hands away? Or better yet. Take this whole damn bag. And just throw it over the edge?”

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“What? Why would you do that?”

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“I’m not sure. Just to do it I guess.”

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“No reason?”

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“No real reason. I suppose just doing something that doesn’t make sense every once in a while makes me feel a little less automated.”

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“Automated?”

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“Yeah. Automated. Like  every day we’re living these awesome, successful, relatively eventful lives but all by some plan,  and all by some structure and all by some some idea…that was never really created by us. But we willingly follow it.

And it’s a damn good thing we do follow it, or else this world would feel like complete chaos.

But.

I don’t know.

Do you…do you think you’d have a job if you weren’t supposed to?

Find love quickly if it didn’t feel so mandatory?

Wear different clothes everyday if it weren’t socially acceptable?”

Hold yourself back if your employment, reputation or finances weren’t on the line?

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“I don’t know. Maybe?”

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“Maybe I would too.”

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“Don’t throw your purse in the river, Olive.”

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“I won’t. That would be a disaster. I’d have to buy a new everything! New phone. New wallet. New gum.”

…But can I tell you a secret?”

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“Yeah?”

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“I’d hate it for the inconvenience.

But I’d love it for the feeling.”

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“You’re crazy.”

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“I know.”

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“Let’s keep walking.”

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And so we did. We kept walking. For the rest of the evening. Into dinner plans. Past a few cocktails. And back to the hotel.

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And once we got back to the hotel. He told me he was going to take a shower. And I said okay. And so I waited until I heard the bathroom door close shut. And then I grabbed the room key. And I went downstairs. And I walked into the gift shop.

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And I bought the first thing I saw.

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Which was this:

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41Liws8pk1L._SX300_

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I didn’t need it. Didn’t necessarily want it. But what I did want was the pointless thrill. Just so when someone asked me why I bought it, I could say “No reason.”

Just so I didn’t have to have a reason for something.

Just one thing.

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Only because  it seems that these days, everything I do, and everything I say, and everything I decide is expected to be labeled with a reasoning. And maybe some things really do need a reason. And maybe some things.

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Really don’t.

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But I label them anyway.

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Twice with reasoning.

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And once with truth.

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reason career

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reason party

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reason dating

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reason pizza

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reason charity

.

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reason get over you

.

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reason relationship.

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reason mistake

.

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reason peter pan

.

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reason tuesday partying.

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reason coaster

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Thing is.

Living a life that’s built around structure is a beautiful thing, a reliable thing, a dependable thing, a recommendable thing. And if you think about it, if you really  really think about it. The way we live? And the decisions that we make? And the people that are in them? Are framed around success, love and expectation.

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And the beauty about having reasons for things are admitting, owning and creating preferences, opinions and justifications.

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The path you choose

The people you choose

The decisions you make

And the decisions you don’t make.

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But every once in a while we find ourselves starving for excuses and reasonings for why we are the way we are. Do the things we do. Don’t do the things we don’t do.  Only because we feel like we need them. And only because other people think we need them too. So they ask us “why”. And we have nothing to say. Either because we ran out or reasons,

Or we simply don’t need one.

For being a certain way. Or for doing a certain thing. Or possessing feelings that don’t make sense. Or having a bad day. Or even a great one.

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And that’s perfectly okay.

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Because we live in a world where we’re pre-programmed and automated to always have an answer to the question “why did you do that?”. Afraid to ever give the reason “I don’t know.” Because that answer might label us as

reason lost

or

reason indecisive

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When in my opinion, not always having the answers? Means there’s still a journey lying ahead.

Or rather.

Evidence that not everything serves a purpose.

Or needs to serve a purpose.

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And how okay that really is.

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How spontaneity doesn’t need an explanation, and neither does weakness. How happiness is just allowed to happen and feelings are too.

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And maybe if we didn’t find ourselves explaining ourselves to people. Or even to ourselves.

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Every day. All the time.

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Things would actually make a lot more damn sense.

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38 responses

  1. This may be completely random, but you reminded me of the scene from Garden State where Natalie Portman’s character struggles with feeling “unoriginal” and whenever that happens she makes a face or does a dance or sings a song no one has ever done before. It’s fascinating! I think we all need to ask these questions, and you seem to have found answers that are completely “right” for you.

    • So crazy that you mention this! I JUST watched Garden state. I’ve watched it before, but so much of that movie inspires me. That scene in particular. So I am actually flattered for the comparison. We definitely need the answers to some things. But not necessarily everything. Thank you for reading (:

      • I haven’t watched in forever—I need to! I really liked when you asked whether or not we would do certain things (get a job, change our clothes every day, fall in love etc.) if it wasn’t “required” by society. That definitely resonates at this point in life!

  2. Such a good message. Especially for us *ahem* older peeps who have “made it” to where we are “supposed” to be and then look around and ask, “what now?”

  3. Oh my gosh I feel the same way. Freshly Press this mother. I am always thinking in my mind….what if I drove on the wrong side of the road, just see what happened or walked out of work, no explanation and went bowling just to go bowling. No reason, just because. Get out of my head!

  4. i have often been asked, ‘why did you do that,’ answering, ‘no reason.’ This is unacceptable for most people. They need reasons so they can order ‘the world they are in.’ I go by the gut and the heart and sometimes it just doesn’t fit their view. If you do the same thing over and over it becomes rote with no real thinking involved it is impressed in our brain. We need to shake it up to be creative and explore new territory, to see things through different light and filters, different angles and viewpoints. Just like photography there is so much more than black and white. Peace!

  5. Relationships seem to go the same way. You can really predict what the other is going to do. Sometimes it’s a good thing, but that seeming spontaneity at the begining is what made it magic. You have inspired me. Today I will do something completely unexpected and unplanned. Maybe I’ll change my preplanned choice of lunch!

    But nothing is ever really unplanned or spontaneous. People play eachother and the world plays us and everything happens for a reason at some point. It’s just up to you if you learn from what its trying to teach you.

    • Hey! I absolutely agree with you. Each experience whether simple or complicated contributes something in some sort of way. Whether it’s just a little dose of happiness, or something monumental. Happy to have inspired you, hope you really did do something unexpected and unplanned today (:

  6. Ahh another great post! I really liked this.

    Sometimes I like doing things just because I can. That’s a good enough reason for me, even though it’s not a very satisfying reason to explain or justify your behavior to someone else. But so what? “Just ’cause” is so liberating.

    • So liberating!! Sometimes I feel like we over think and analyze everything we do because we know there might be the consequence of an explanation in the end, and it goes against the raw nature of just wanting to do something for the hell of it. It’s an awesome feeling when we remind ourselves that our own perceptions of ourselves and what we do is what matters the most (:

  7. Yours is easily my favorite channel that I follow. I haven’t been disappointed by a single one of your posts yet. You get me to laugh, which if you knew me you’d realize how difficult that can be sometimes, but you also get me to think about something I don’t usually think about, something that actually means something, leaving me something important to take away from your post. You’re a great writer and I really mean that. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • Whoa.

      It’s so serendipitous that when you start to doubt and question yourself the most, you receive comments like this that make it impossible for you to do anything other than to keep trucking on and believing in yourself! I’m so flattered by everything you said to me, partially because they were so kind to say, but mostly because it takes a really special person to go out of their way to type out something like that. You’re awesome and I hope you know that you kept a dreamer dreaming today (:

      • I doubt myself, whether it be my talents or abilities or my future, and sometimes having a friend say, “Don’t give up on yourself. You can do it”, that really means a lot. You give me something to look forward to when I turn on my computer, just like those I follow on YouTube do the same. Saying thanks is my way of “giving back”, even if I’m not making a difference in your life like you are in mine. Happy to be of help.

      • You’ve been up to the task and homered at each at-bat. I’m sure you’ll do fine. 😄
        Something else you guys do, is remind me that there is still some good left in this world. Sometimes I lose sight of that because there’s so much bad, but you and those I follow on YouTube remind me there’s still some good left, and that makes me smile, if not on the outside, then on the inside.

  8. How spontaneity doesn’t need an explanation, and neither does weakness. How happiness is just allowed to happen and feelings are too. And maybe if we didn’t find ourselves explaining ourselves to people. Or even to ourselves. Every day. All the time. Things would actually make a lot more damn sense. — Amen amiga. Excellent post.

  9. I feel like this sentiment is popping up all over the place in my world. It goes along with “take risks” and “do something scary.” If I wasn’t second guessing every decision I made, perhaps I’d make more decisions? If I didn’t over-think every possible scenario, maybe doing those scary things (which are often the most rewarding and FUN) would be less difficult. If I didn’t feel the need to explain my every move to myself and others, maybe more moves would occur.

    I have a great job right now, but I just took an entry level position at a local restaurant. I’ll be working the “great” job during the day and the restaurant job at night. People have asked me why. My answer: “Because it sounds fun.”

    This was such an encouraging post. I love the foam pit analogy. Let’s make life our foam pit!

    • Hey Rachel!

      You know, people like you are often my favorite types of people. Following your heart and nothing else. GOOD for you. You truly are an inspiration. I agree, let’s make our life a foam pit. Nonsensical things often turn out to be the best things (:

  10. I loved this post. I could definitely understand everything you were saying and have those thoughts too. This post came at the right time for me and was exactly the kind of thing I needed to read this morning… So thanks for that 🙂 I’m always looking forward to your next post!

    • Hello!

      I’m so glad we can relate so well on something like this (: I’m glad the timing of this was so serendipitous for you, and I think you’re awesome for reading. Can’t wait to write more for you!

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